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Riders’ Justin McInnis will have motivation in the stands on Saturday

Click to play video: 'Riders’ Justin McInnis will have motivation in the stands on Saturday' Riders’ Justin McInnis will have motivation in the stands on Saturday
WATCH: Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Justin McInnis will have an extra set of eyes on him this week as he makes his first start of the season against Calgary – Oct 9, 2021

Justin McInnis has been feeling youthful this week as the Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver gets set to make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders.

“Ever since I got the news, I’ve been feeling like a kid on Christmas,” said McInnis. “I’m super excited to get back out there.

“It’s been the 2019 season that I stepped on the field so I’m really ready to go out there and leave my mark.”

And while McInnis is feeling like a kid again, he’s also thinking of his own kid, two-year-old Aria, who will be in the stands, providing all the inspiration the 25-year-old needs.

Read more: Saskatchewan Roughriders sign veteran receiver Duke Williams

“It’s going to be super exciting,” said McInnis. “Talk about something that will keep you motivated before the game, during the game, after the game.

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“I’m probably going to look at her a bunch of times but at the end of the day I’ve got to keep focused on what’s going on on the field.”

With Mitchell Picton heading to the one-game injured list, it paved the way for McInnis, who was the Riders’ first-round draft pick in 2019, to get back into the lineup after being hurt himself earlier this year.

“He’s a good football player,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said of McInnis, who played 14 games in 2019. “He was nicked up early in camp, came back, reaggravated an (injury) and we feel like he’s 100 per cent.

Read more: Stampeders hope to use bye week rest to their advantage against Roughriders

“He’s earned a shot to play and with Picton being a little banged up, it just happened to work out.”

And while McInnis has been preparing all season for this moment, he’s also been busy away from the stadium, taking care of a toddler while his fiancée Brittany finishes nursing school in the United States. And with his first start of 2021 coming on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, McInnis is feeling more than grateful for all the support around him.

“This whole week, my family has been super excited,” said McInnis. “They’ve been keeping me up the whole time and this whole year, telling me to keep going, so I’m super thankful for all of them.”

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